Apple Cider Jerky
Who can resist the mouth-watering flavor of beef jerky? Some might even call this healthy, low-calorie, snack food an addiction. Add the sweet, tangy flavor of apple cider powder and apple juice concentrate to the mix and you expand its appeal even more, especially among this nation’s certified apple lover’s.

1 lb lean beef or venison [454 g]
1 1/2 tsp pickling salt [9.75 g]
1/4 tsp Prague Powder #1 [1.4 g]
1/4 tsp allspice [0.60 g]
1/2 tsp cardamom [1.4 g]
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground [1.1 g]
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper [3.75 g]
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar [7.35 g]
1 tbsp apple cider powder [22.5 g]
1 cup apple juice concentrate [237 ml]

1. Cut away all visible fat and connective tissue from the beef or venison.
2. Chill meat to 31°F (-0.55°C), slice into 1/4” (0.64 cm) thick strips, cut across the grain for a tender bite or with the grain for a chewy bite.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in a glass bowl or other non-reactive container; mix well. Add meat strips, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
4. Next day, arrange cured meat strips on oiled racks or screens in a single layer, leaving enough space between the pieces to allow sufficient air flow.
5. Dry meat strips at 145°F (63°C) in usual manner until meat is dried to about 40-50% of its original weight (green weight).
6. Remove one piece of jerky from dryer, cool slightly. Bend jerky into the shape of a horseshoe. If it cracks but doesn’t break, it’s considered dry enough and ready to eat.
7. Properly dried jerky should keep up to 2 weeks in a sealed container or you can vacuum seal and freeze up to 6 months.

Notes:
If you want to add a bit of sweetness, dribble honey over the top of the cured meat strips prior to placing them in an oven, smoker or dehydrator.

Although pink curing salt #1 isn’t required in the production of homemade jerky, it is recommended because it inhibits the growth of bacteria, reduces spoilage and improves the overall color and flavor of the finished product.

If you dry jerky in an oven or a dehydrator but you prefer a smoked effect, simply add liquid smoke to the marinade at the rate of 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for each 5 pounds of meat. You can add more liquid smoke if desired.

Bratwurst, Wisconsin Favorite
Karen and I ran ourselves ragged traveling the sports-show circuit for a number of years when we were establishing our sausage and jerky supply business. We pitched our new line of products to thousands of farmers, hunters, housewives and sausage making enthusiasts across the country with positive results. It wasn’t long before our virgin enterprise was off the ground and Eldon’s Sausage and Jerky Supply was born.

One of our favorite stops on the sports-show circuit was Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Whitetail Deer Classic, and ostensibly the “World’s Largest Brat Fest”. We happily peddled our line of sausage making supplies by day and enjoyed smoke-grilled brats and German potato salad by night.

We were in Madison when we learned that Sheboygan, Wisconsin unofficially hails as the Bratwurst Capital of America. This great city hosts the annual "Sheboygan Bratwurst Days" that begins on the first Thursday of August every year. Sheboygan is also the home of Johnsonville Foods which is the nation's foremost bratwurst maker. And who do you know who hasn’t had the pleasure of biting into a just grilled Johnsonville brat––not anybody that I know of that’s for sure.

Whether its a pair of links nestled in a freshly-made bun, or an authentic Sheboygan hard roll, topped with any combination of condiments such as sautéed onions, sauerkraut, or a generous helping of spicy German mustard, a charcoal grilled bratwurst is arguably the best of the wurst.

We were told that the preferred method of cooking one pound of fresh bratwurst is to pierce each link several times with a fork prior to cooking. Choose a nicely flavored ale or beer (not a "lite") and pour it into a medium sauce pan. Allow the beer to boil, add links, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the barbecue grill for direct cooking. Remove cooked brats from beer and place on medium-hot grill, turning frequently, until they are browned on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Bratwurst
This is a type of German sausage made of pork and/or veal seasoned with a variety of spices including ginger, nutmeg and coriander. Though it’s available precooked, it’s primarily sold as a fresh sausage and must be cooked before eating. It’s usually grilled and served on a bun with sautéed onions , peppers and a swath of spicy mustard.

4 1/2 lbs pork butt [2.1 kg]
1/2 lb pork back fat [227 g]
2 1/2 tbsp table salt [54.8 g]
1 tsp marjoram, ground [1.4 g]
1 1/2 tsp mace, ground [3.9 g]
1 1/2 tsp white pepper [4.1 g]
2 tbsp powdered dextrose [17.4 g]
1 cup heavy cream [240 ml]
32-35mm prepared hog casings

1. Chill pork/fat to 34°F (1°C), grind one time through a 3/16” (5mm) plate.
2. Combine ground pork/fat with remaining ingredients in a large bowl or tub; mix/knead well until the mixture is sticky and batter like.
3. Do a taste test by cooking a small thin patty, cool patty briefly prior to tasting, then add additional seasonings to the meat batter if desired.
4. Stuff the seasoned sausage batter into prepared 32-35mm hog casings; twist into 5-6” (13-15 cm) links.
5. To use bulk style, stuff meat batter into poly meat bags or shape the batter mixture into equal size patties.
6. Pan fry, grill, broil or bake fresh sausage at medium heat until it’s brown on the outside and no longer pink inside.*
7. Refrigerate up to 5 days or vacuum seal and freeze up to 6 months.

Notes:
Grilling fresh bratwurst takes a bit of skill because they must be fully cooked inside without burning the outside. One idea is to simmer the brat’s in hot water or your favorite beer for 7-10 minutes or until they are fully cooked. Then you can place bratwurst on the a grill or in a pan to brown.
.
Hunters may use venison in place of the pork butt to produce a first-class bratwurst. Use 75-80% lean venison trim to 25-20% pork fat.

*The USDA suggests cooking fresh sausage to an internal temperature of 160°F (70°C) when checked with a quick-read thermometer. It takes about 10 seconds for the temperature to be accurately displayed with this unit.

Cheese Dogs
With summer just around the corner and knowing how much my wife loves to cook out, I suggested we make a fresh batch of cheddar cheese dogs. Our homemade version has considerably less fat than store bought, and it’s heavy on the meat and cheese, so much so, that they literally ooze cheddar cheese at each bite!

1 lb cheddar cheese, diced [444 g]
4 lbs beef chuck, marbled [1.8 kg]
1 lb fresh beef fat [454 g]
2 1/2 tbsp pickling salt [48.7 g]
1 tsp Prague Powder #1 [5.7 g]
1/2 tsp celery seed, ground [1.35 g]
1 tsp mace, ground [2.6 g]
1 tsp onion powder [3.6 g]
1 tbsp white pepper [8.1 g]
1 1/2 tbsp powdered dextrose [13 g]
2 tbsp paprika [14.4 g]
2 tbsp corn syrup solids [27.6 g]
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk [47.3 g*]
1/2 cup ice cold water [118 ml]
32-35mm prepared hog casings

1. At least one day prior to making sausage grind cheddar cheese one time through a 1/2” (13mm) plate. Spread cheese on cookie sheet and freeze.
2. Chill beef/fat to 31°F (-0.55°C), grind 2 times through a 1/8” (3mm) plate.*
3. Combine ground beef/fat with remaining ingredients in a large bowl or tub; mix well until the mixture is sticky and batter like.
4. Divide batter into portions to fit food processor; emulsify until a smooth paste is obtained, add crushed ice as needed to keep meat paste below 50°F (10°C).
5. Transfer emulsified batter to mixing tub and gently fold in frozen cheese.
6. Stuff freshly mixed sausage batter into 32-35mm hog casings, twist into 5-6” (13-15 cm) links, refrigerate overnight to cure.
7. Next day, hang cheese dogs in a preheated 130°F (54°C) smoker with the dampers wide open; hold product at this temperature for one hour.
8. Add chips, close vents, and gradually raise smoker temperature to 170°F (77°C). Hold until sausage has an internal temperature of 152°F (67°C).
9. Upon reaching 152°F (67°C), remove links from smoker and shower with cold water until the internal temperature drops to 110°F (43°C).
10. Hang cheese dogs at room temperature for 1 hour to bloom.
11. Refrigerate up to 7 days or vacuum seal and freeze up to 6 months.

Notes:
*You can achieve a good home emulsification by freezing the pork to 31°F (-0.55°C) before grinding it one time through a 1/8” (0.32 cm) plate, spread it out on a cookie sheet, refreeze and regrind up to four separate times.

Poultry For Sausage
Poultry is a domesticated species of bird raised mainly for human consumption. Chicken, turkeys, ducks and geese fall under the heading of poultry. The National Chicken Council reports that, “poultry consumption has been continually increasing and consumption has surpassed all other meats. In 2007, per-capita annual consumption of chicken was 90.6 pounds, the highest of any of the major meats. In addition, annual per capita turkey meat consumption was approximately 18 pounds. Beef consumption was 69 pounds per person on a retail weight basis, while pork was 52 pounds per person.” A survey conducted by Bruskin Research found that 89% of the respondents ate chicken at least once per week and 36% of the respondents consumed chicken three times per week or more.

Most store-bought chickens are killed at 5-8 weeks of age and turkeys at 14 to 18 weeks of age, either one can be used to make sausage. In fact, interest in poultry meat, has risen to an all-time high among commercial sausage makers. One of the biggest drawbacks people have with sausage is that it has a lot of fat which means it is a high calorie food. Poultry is much leaner, and since the new wave of home-based sausage makers are interested in eating healthier, chicken and turkey are viable alternatives to pork.

Fellow sausage maker Dave Gates is the man who introduced me to this affordable alternative to pork several years ago during his tenure at Idaho Sausage, and I’ve been using it to make fresh sausage ever since. By using chicken thigh meat, I’m able to keep the fat content low and still produce a reasonably moist product. Chicken or turkey breast meat, on the other hand, is far too dry without the addition of at least some added fat.

If you are an adventurous type, homemade chicken or turkey sausage is easily made with regular kitchen tools. The flavor can be adjusted to satisfy your preferences and you can make chicken Italian sausage at home for about half as much as store bought. If you don’t have access to a meat grinder or food processor, your local butcher may grind the chicken after hours.

Chicken Italian Sausage
When you tire of eating the same old sausage, made from the usual meats, why not opt for a new twist on an old favorite. The new chicken Italian sausage merges the earthy flavor of garlic and herbs with the pleasing flavor of chicken. Whether it’s grilled and served with sautéed vegetables or on a bun, chicken Italian sausage is sure to please.

5 lbs chicken thighs w/skin [2.27 kg]
2 1/2 tbsp table salt [54.8 g]
1 tsp oregano powder [2.3 g]
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder [4.65 g]
1 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper [3.9 g]
1 tbsp red pepper flakes [6.3 g]
1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley flakes [1.85 g]
2 tbsp fennel seed, cracked [21.6 g]
2 tbsp paprika [14.4 g]
2 tbsp powdered dextrose [17.4 g]
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped [23 g]
1/2 cup chicken broth [118 ml]
32-35mm prepared hog casings

1. Chill boneless thighs to 34°F (1°C), grind once through a 1/4” (6mm) plate.
2. Combine ground chicken and remaining ingredients in a large bowl or tub; mix/knead well until the mixture is sticky and batter like.
3. Do a taste test by cooking a small thin patty, cool patty briefly prior to tasting, then add additional seasonings to the meat batter if desired.
4. Stuff the seasoned sausage batter into prepared 32-35mm hog casings; twist into 5-6” (13-15 cm) links.
5. To use bulk style, stuff meat batter into poly meat bags or shape the batter mixture into equal size patties.
6. Pan fry, grill, broil or bake fresh sausage at medium heat until it’s brown on the outside and no longer pink inside.*
7. Refrigerate sausage up to 5 days or vacuum seal and freeze up to 6 months.

Notes:
Serve chicken Italian sausage links atop a crusty roll with a swipe of yellow mustard and mayo, smothered with sautéed onions and sweet bell peppers.

*The USDA suggests cooking fresh sausage to an internal temperature of 160°F (70°C) when checked with a quick-read thermometer. It takes about 10 seconds for the temperature to be accurately displayed with this unit.